Interview with Laqbesi

Laqbesi is an independent hiphop artist based in Beirut, Lebanon

Yara Berjawi

10/24/20228 min read

Morethanindie: Thanks for joining me in this first interview. So, we were briefly talking about how music is a form of expression, a language. I’m curious to hear about how your journey started.

Laqbesi: Oh, you’re taking me way back! I’ve always toyed with the idea of making music, but you know there’s always a voice in the back of your head telling you “you’re not that good?”. I don’t know… two years ago, it was lockdown. We were isolated, time was slow, not much was moving. I didn’t have much to do - I’m not gonna lie to you, and I was not in a good place. You know, like you said, music is a form of self expression. And as someone who struggles to express themselves and opening up through words about their feelings, I decided to express myself through music. I decided to write music. At first I wasn’t going to do anything with it, but that’s how it starts.

I think everyone has something to express themselves with, but they just haven’t tapped into yet. Music is about opening up for me, that’s how I look at music.

“Music is about opening up for me, that’s how I look at music.”

Morethanindie: Yeah, I totally get you! What would you say were moments in your life when you remember listening to a song, or watching a movie that got you to realize you want to make music? I mean, for me with this project, it wasn’t necessarily that one moment, but that build-up of moments that got things to fall into one place. Do you recall having these moments?

Laqbesi: Nothing else is giving me goosebumps, you know what I mean? I see myself listening to a song that I’ve listened to 4,000 times and at the 4,005’th time and I still get goosebumps at that exact part during a song. What was it for you with creating morethanindie?

Morethanindie: Well, I have to give credit to the people who helped shape me musically, and I have a school friend who introduced me to indie music. She literally gave me a whole bunch of CDs (back in the day). I remember the first thought I had about indie was “Oh, it’s like the music from the movies!” It’s precisely the kind of songs you wouldn’t hear on the radio, but rather in some weird obscure movie. For me it was all about realizing all this really good music exists and very few people know about it. And if it’s also giving me goosebumps, it’s impossible that I’m the only one experiencing this! Haha.

Laqbesi: Tell me about it, oh my god, yes! I’ve always wanted to make music as someone low-key, whose music people share like that. When someone puts me on to someone else, that makes my day! That’s the beauty of music too, you can consume it quickly. You can consume a song in 5 minutes, but to consume a movie you need 2 hours.

Morethanindie: So let’s go back a bit in time. You were in lockdown, you started fiddling around, and then what happened? Can you tell me when you had your first song?

Laqbesi: I would go on Youtube and look for other artists’ type beats, and just write to beats for months. And then one day, I had the house to myself and I had a broken PlayStation microphone. I got my laptop and just recorded something, barely mixed it and put it on SoundCloud. It was garbage! But hey, I enjoyed that. And then 4-5 months later, I stopped writing and recording. Being in Lebanon, you don’t want to pay anyone else. I never thought I had an interest in music production until I realized I don’t want to pay someone else for it. So one day I locked myself in for one month and taught myself off Youtube how to produce. I didn’t come out of that a genius, but I had the basics. Ever since then, I bought equipment and I decided to release an album. I locked myself in for 4 months and dropped the album DA SLUMZ. It was garbage, I don’t like it. I didn’t want to do anything else until I had released an album. I produced 5 songs of that, I wrote it all myself, recorded it, and mixed it. To be able to say that you did that in a year, it’s an achievement.

“To be able to say that you did that in a year, it’s an achievement.”

Morethanindie: But hey, let’s take a minute to appreciate the fact that you put yourself through the work. Many people would stop at producing one or two songs. But from what I understand you had your own goals and deadlines and you stuck with it.

Laqbesi: Oh yeah yeah I knew I had to do it. So then I locked myself in again and decided to actually make something I’m proud of. At that time I was infatuated with the idea of time, this is literally just January of 2022. My biggest fear is how quickly time is moving, so I decided to spend 6 months of my life writing about time. I locked myself in, I worked on Classic Vintage Timeless and produced every single song myself. Nothing off Youtube. I didn’t master it, shout out to Adnan Halabi, Kaniel Mak and Zoya Barake too. I’m proud of that EP. I think the message is it takes a year and a half to make something you’re proud of.

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"There’s this trend of vintage now..then again you're 19, so you weren't there at that time."

Morethanindie: Okay, so what kind of inspiration do you have for your music? I look at Classic Vintage Timeless and I think, as a marketer, there’s this trend of vintage now. Retrowave is back, the colors purple and orange are back, the big bold font is back. Then again you’re 19, so you weren’t there at that time. It caught my eye, and I wonder - why did you choose these?

Laqbesi: So, I’ve always been infatuated with New York 90’s HipHop with NAS, Biggie and all of it. When you make an EP about how quickly time moves and how scary it is. My target audience isn’t 18 year-olds. But these people don’t think “aww, my 20s are running by”. Let me ask you - you lived in the 90’s right? Doesn’t it feel so nostalgic to you?

Morethanindie: Well yeah, I lived in the 90s and I remember having access to an old TV that didn’t have a remote control at my grandparent’s house. It feels like the world is reminiscing over the 90s in a way that it became a collective experience.

Laqbesi: Exactly! The way I view it is that the Internet - ever since I was a kid - has been dominated by people born in the 90s. These people carry everything that’s on the Internet. These people miss it. So this album ties in to the theme of time - and how could I, a 19-year old, be reminiscing things that I didn’t experience? How could I be making an EP about this if I wasn’t even there?!

Morethanindie: I get that, which takes me to my next question. From all these songs, were there certain lyrics that you really wanted to relay to the people as specific messages? Could you share them with us?

Laqbesi: I think my favorite line on the whole EP is the last line on the entire EP which is “Why your eyes so goddamn dry?”. Do I have to explain it? I feel like people nowadays don’t talk about how they feel. I know that mental health awareness is at an all-time high. So yeah, no one asks themselves that. Especially men, they’re raised with this toxic idea that if you cry, you’re not a man. I, myself, am a victim of this and I still struggle with it. I feel like more men need to ask themselves why they don’t cry.

“Do I have to explain it? It feels like people nowadays don’t talk about how they feel.”

Morethanindie: If you were to summarize the themes in this EP, what would they be?

Laqbesi: If I wanted to summarize Classic Vintage Timeless in one sentence, it would be “I would never time travel.” We just spend our entire lives thinking about future events or reminiscing about the past, and then I just feel like we’re not living in the present. I feel like I’m a hypocrite saying this, but I’m looking forward to next Saturday and I despise last Saturday. What am I doing on a Tuesday? I’m not living here in the present…

Morethanindie: So if I were to infer a bit the themes, those would be mental health, suicide, staying aware and living in the present. Anything else?

Laqbesi: I need to make happier music haha! That’s what I did with the EP as a whole. I took 5 different ideas all linked to time and I just connected them into one little EP - one conceptual EP. The outros to some songs are linked to intros of other songs, but I also wanted to EP to end quickly. It really is just an EP about time. The first section of Time is a Centerpiece is about how I was feeling in the present and the second section of that song is me reminiscing as future me. The concept behind Dilo’s Intro is “how can I make a classic if I’m afraid of time”. Because a classic takes 5-10 years to become a classic. Yet I want to make one now, and I’m afraid of aging. It makes no sense!

Morethanindie: That sounds very immersive, even as a process for you. They’re not different experiences that you had here and there and you merged them into a phase of your life. It’s not like you lived through an experience like a break-up, for example, and then you made a break-up song. As a last thought, if we were to look a bit into the future, where would you see Laqbesi evolving?

Laqbesi: I don’t wanna be cocky but I will be one of the biggest artists in the world. I feel like it.

Morethanindie: Okay! I mean, it’s a thin line between being cocky and having a really big hunch. You know if you pour your heart into it and connect with the right people, and you do the work that needs to be done around music, eventually doors are gonna open. Or maybe you’re just manifesting, haha!

Laqbesi: It’s not even a feeling, haha. In my head, I’m not even thinking “if I work this hard, maaaybe I’ll get a chance..”. I’m just doing my work knowing that I’m gonna do this and that.

Morethanindie: Laqbesi, thank you so much for your time. This has been super cool.

"If I wanted to summarize Classic Vintage Timeless in one sentence, it would be: I would never time travel."

- Laqbesi